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Human Rights Commission Condemns Illegal State of Emergency

February 19

Measures taken by the Ukrainian authorities are equivalent to the illegal implementation of a state of emergency in the capital, Kyiv, the Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in Ukraine has concluded.

According to representatives of the Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in Ukraine, the primary responsibility for escalating instances of human rights violations, murder, grievous bodily harm, torture, persecution on political grounds, and other crimes against humanity falls on the President of Ukraine, his associates, and the heads of Ukraine’s security agencies. The representatives demanded that the government cease the unlawful use of force against the protesters.

This declaration was part of a statement released today by the Commission at a press conference at Interfax Ukraine. Participating in the conference were Committee Chairman Volodymyr Vasylenko, expert in international law, professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, former ambassador and plenipotentiary of Ukraine and judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (2002-2005); Volodymyr Vyatrovych, senior fellow at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, member of the civil sector at Euromaidan, director of the Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine (2008-2010); Deputy Chairman of the Commission Stanislav Batryn, doctor of law, associate research fellow at the V.M. Koretsky Institute of State and Law at the National Academy of Sciences; Deputy Chair of the Commission Yuri Kushnir, lawyer; and Secretary of the Commission Olena Syslova, head of the Women’s Information Consultation Center.

“The events of Bloody Tuesday on 18 February 2014 have demonstrated that the anti-constitutional, authoritarian regime of Viktor Yanukovych has crossed the line and is now involved in a large-scale war against the Ukrainian people. This war is accompanied by gross violations of fundamental human rights and fundamental human freedoms,” declared commission head Volodymyr Vasylenko.

The Commission believes the heads of the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, who deliberately launched the punitive troops, military vehicles and equipment, are accomplices in the crimes against humanity that are now being carried out by members of Berkut and Internal Security Service forces.

“Also complicit in the criminal assault on Maidan are the heads of the Kyiv Municipal Administration and the Kyiv Metro, who arbitrarily halted metro service and thus deprived Kyiv residents of the possibility of coming to the aid of the defenders of freedom at a critical moment,” the document stated.

“In addition to the blocking of roads to Kyiv and Maidan by the traffic police (DAI), limiting of the broadcast of Channel 5, and implementing an information blockade in all the official, government-controlled channels, the measures described are practically indistinguishable from the illegal introduction of a state of emergency in the country’s capital,” the Commission stated.

The Commission has urged the law enforcement bodies under no circumstances to engage in cruel and excessive use of force or cruel and unusual methods: “In accordance with Article 60 of the Constitution of Ukraine, no one can be obligated to carry out manifestly criminal orders and instructions. The issuance and execution of clearly criminal orders entails criminal liability,” it stated.

The Commission stressed that crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations, and those who committed them, regardless of their status, shall be liable in accordance with national and international laws as well as the procedures of the International Criminal Court.

The Commission demanded that President Viktor Yanukovych immediately cease the unlawful use of force against peaceful demonstrators in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine.

The human rights activists appealed to the international community to adopt targeted sanctions against Yanukovych and members of his team since gross violations of human rights have resulted from their criminal behavior.

“We call on all citizens of Ukraine to unite and proceed with organized, peaceful protest against the attempts of this regime to destroy democracy in Ukraine and transform it into a dictatorship. Only through joint efforts will Ukrainian society succeed in removing the criminals from power with an aim to restore constitutional order in Ukraine, establish respect for human dignity, and establish the necessary conditions for every person to be able to live in security and prosperity,” commission members concluded.


Translated by Anna Mostovych

Edited by Robin Rohrback

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